I’ve been reading…

a number of Elizabethan plays lately, owing to various different projects I’m working on this term. I’m not obtuse about Elizabethan/Tudor drama, but it’s earlier than the plays I usually work on, so less familiar (though I have solemnly vowed to read a lot more of the stuff this year.

Stylistically, late-Elizabethan plays are quite different from Jacobean and Caroline — often written entirely in, or frequently slipping into rhyming fourteeners. There’s a different feel when reading aloud. But I’m surprised by how ‘modern’ the two plays I’m reading this week (one by Robert Wilson and another by Henry Porter) feel in terms of setting and anxieties about city life, marriage, etc. I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised by the similarities to Jacobean drama given that both plays are late late Elizabethan (1590s, a few years before her death). But in my head Elizabethan drama is far less gritty and far more dressed up in court clothes.

12 November 2014


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